For long the MG Hector has been marked as India's first Internet car and that has caught the fancy of many people. But why Internet in a car when almost everyone has a smartphone? Well, the internet has become an essential part of our lives so it's no surprise that people want seamless access to this virtual world everywhere they are. Hence, it was only a matter of time that cars with inbuilt internet came into the Indian market and the Hyundai Venue and MG Hector are among the first such connected or internet cars to be available to Indian buyers. The MG Hector, claimed to be India's first Internet car has been creating a lot of hype and finally, we got a chance to drive it and find out if it can make a foothold in the fiercely competed compact SUV space or not. Oh, and by the way, in case you're wondering whether the Hector is Chinese or British, well we answer that too so read on.
MG Hector Design
The MG Hector is a looker and there are no two ways about it as it will manage to turn a lot of heads as you drive by. The design approach is similar to what we saw in the Tata Harrier wherein the headlamps are housed in the lower part of the bumper while the LED DRLs and blinkers are integrated into the top part in a sleek manner. This lends the Hector with a futuristic look, which is what the SUV genuinely is in respect to the Indian market. The angular bumper along with the sharp creases on the bumper and the chrome surrounds for the headlamps give the Hector a premium and sophisticated face. Some journalists on the drive felt the Hector looks narrower than it is but I couldn't agree as I found the SUV to be aptly sized.
The side profile too is dynamic and quite busy with a strong shoulder line, roof rails, contoured glass behind the C-pillar and blacked out pillars. The only eyesore here are the alloy wheels, which have a fantastic design but look undersized despite having a diameter of 17-inches. It's just the overall physical footprint of the Hector is large than other compact SUVs and makes the wheels look smaller than they actually are.
The rear section again is sharp like the rest of the design and looks modern and upmarket. The tail lamps have been designed to give an effect of running from one end to another and while this looks good from far the plastic used to connect the tail lamps appears to be of low quality when inspected closely.
MG Hector Interiors
Once inside the cabin of the MG Hector occupants are greeted to a plush and spacious cabin. The black theme looks good and since the Hector has a spacious cabin one won't find the need for brighter shades. The dashboard has a three-layer design with the centre one having soft-touch material. The remaining parts also have impressive plastic quality and are up there with the best in the segment.
However, what will grab most eyeballs is the large 10.4-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, which is reminiscent of new Volvos and the Teslas and that's a great thing for a compact SUV to be priced well under Rs 20 lakh. The screen is the interface for most Internet-related features that have been made possible due to an embedded e-SIM from Airtel in the vehicle. It also comes preloaded with multiple apps including Gaana, giving you access to songs of your choice without having to save them as long as you have access to internet data.
Being an Internet car, you can carry out a lot of functions remotely through your smartphone. Things such as switching on/ off the ignition, adjusting the climate control, opening the sunroof, tracking your vehicle, setting geofences and a lot more can be done from anywhere on the phone. The system is 5G enabled and is capable of OTA (over the air updates), which will ensure you do not need to visit a service centre to get updates. In the case of an accident, the vehicle can call emergency services and in requirement of assistance, one can connect with the MG call centre for help or even request for a call by pushing the i-call button once in the car. There's a lot more that you can do but mentioning every feature here will require you to keep reading for a really long time so you can refer to the video below for a better understanding.
MG Hector Video Review: MG Hector First Drive Road Test Impressions:
One other interesting feature is the voice command, which allows you to carry out certain functions by using simple voice inputs. So things such as changing cabin temperature, radio stations, volume etc can be done simply by saying out the commands. Things such as opening the sunroof, driver side window, selecting a specific cabin temperature and a lot more need a wake command - Hello MG. Just provide your voice input after this and the function is executed and Indian accent is no issue as we tried many times and the system worked perfectly well.
Apart from this, usual things such as in-built navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well. Charging devices won't be a problem as there are two USB points at the front and one at the rear. That said, it would have been good to have a wireless charging pad in the Hector considering the smaller Hyundai Venue offers it. The touch response from the screen also leaves some room for improvement as one can notice some lag at times.
The MG Hector also offers the largest boot volume in its segment at 587 litres and the fact that you get an electronically-operated tailgate, access is much easier. Beyond these, the cabin scores well on all parameters as the seats are nice at the front and space at the rear is also impressive. Taller occupants could have a slight problem with under-thigh support at the rear but the flat floor offsets that to an extent and also makes it possible for three adults to sit more comfortably. The front seats are electrically-adjustable and there's an auto-dimming rearview mirror as well. Talk about being spoilt for choice!
MG Hector Engine
As far as the engine and gearbox options are concerned, there is a 1.0-litre diesel engine with a power output of 170 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Apart from this, there is a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that puts out 143 hp of power and 250 Nm of torque. With the diesel engine, you only get a six-speed manual gearbox while with the petrol version, you can choose between a manual gearbox and a dual clutch transmission. Another interesting option is the petrol hybrid, which is India’s first 48-volt hybrid. In addition to a start/ stop system it regenerates the energy lost in braking and stores it for use under acceleration. MG calls it e-Boost so whenever you generously apply the throttle, you get that stored power in the form of a boost helping you go a little bit quicker. It also has fuel efficiency benefits and lowers carbon emissions.
In terms of driveability, the engine is quite nice. It is a smooth and rev happy unit so once you go past about 2500 rpm, you can actually have some fun with it. The issue is with the starting bit, that is getting it off the line as there is a bit of a lag so once the turbo spools in. This happens close to about 1700 to 1800 rpm, after which the engine moves effortlessly but if you are on an incline, that is a point when the vehicle struggles a bit to get off the line. On the highways however, the performance is quite nice as you can easily achieve triple-digit speeds and maintain it. Overtaking long trailers should not be a problem as well.
The diesel engine also offers good performance. The impressive thing about the diesel engine is that the company has efficiently lowered NVH levels, as a result of which the cabin is insulated from a lot of external sounds. In terms of performance too, the diesel engine is quite impressive. This is the same engine that powers the Jeep Compass as well but the tuning here is much better unlike the Jeep where you do have some lag. In this engine, there is lesser lag and at about 1500 to 1600 rpm is when the turbo spools in and you get a good drive out of it.
We drove the diesel and petrol hybrid versions but only with manual transmissions. What I can tell you about manual gearbox is that it works well in both the engines. The throws are quite smooth, and the gearbox pairing is also quite nice with the engine which compliments the driveability.
MG Hector Ride and Handling
The Hector is positioned as a comfortable and premium SUV and its ride and handling manners are in sync with its character. In terms of straight-line high-speed stability we had no complaints. We drove it on the highway throughout the day and the vehicle performed almost flawlessly. Even around winding roads, it was predictable but there is noticeable body roll and the steering is not really quick so it is not a car that a driving enthusiast would enjoy. That said, it has power and sure-footed handling so you can have some fun with it. The ride quality is also impressive so over potholes, broken surfaces and speed breakers, the cabin remains largely insulated, leading to a more comfortable experience for the occupants.
On the safety front, the MG Hector scores well as top variants come with six airbags, ABS with EBD, disc brakes all around, traction control and hill start assist. Even base models come with front dual-airbags, ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors and disc brakes on four wheels.
With all things discussed about the MG Hector, it is now time to give our verdict and to summarize the Hector. It is genuinely an impressive SUV and has been packaged very well and as a result of that, you get features more than any other SUV in its segment. You get a striking design and not to forget the internet connectivity options which again is a first and hence, the Hector is a strong package in all aspects. Now the key thing that remains to be seen is the pricing and my expectation is that the car might be priced starting from under Rs 14 lakh to around Rs 18.5 lakh (ex-showroom) and if MG can get this pricing, I am sure the Hector will go on to become a successful product provided MG can back it up with a consistently good quality of service, which again is a promising story but one for later.
Now to the question - Whether this is a British or a Chinese SUV? Technically, the platform is designed and developed in China so this is a SAIC derived platform so this is a Chinese vehicle technically. However, the Hector is Made in India and it is a global platform. The best part here is the way the vehicle has been designed, the way the features have been packaged and the execution and all of that is pretty much British as far as quality is concerned and that is big praise for this vehicle. So yes, it's a Chinese platform derived vehicle but is made in India and is at par with global standards in terms of features, drive and quality.